The Ox at the Back

Sun 18 Oct 2020 04:44


Position 21:23.51S 60:03.58E


No Holds Barred – But we’re The Ox at the Back

Nothing was holding Zoonie back; for days her clean hull, propeller feathered, ran before the trade wind with the swells rising behind her, lifting her stern and letting her slide down ahead of them before settling as they pass underneath. The breeze in the multi-blue Diva lifting and pulling her through the water, watched by a passing pair of Matsudaira’s Storm Petrels.

We had to change the clocks once in a while, not as onerous task for me as when it took an entire flight from London to Barcelona to alter my new digital watch, it now takes less time than Rob to make mugs of coffee.

“Bored?” Do I hear you ask? How can we be bored when we have numerous copies of this year’s Sailing Today magazine to read; a perfect gift from Gavin, whom we first met in Albany and again in Fremantle. We have been planning our cruise around the UK, cannot get circumnavigations out of our head, it must be because we live on an island surrounded by an element we love to embrace by sailing boat. UK then Norway and the Baltic. Homeward anyway while Covid and Brexit sort themselves and we spend time with our family.

The Diva is putting in long performances, overnighters as well, in perfect sailing weather. Her audience of two love to watch her perform while listening to music all day from her accompanying orchestra below.

After breakfast we send emails and enjoy messages from friends and family, some in response to mine and others arriving independently. Every day we exchange words with our weather guru, Des in Durban, Durban Des:-

“Dear R&B

Thanks for latest update 0300UTC 14\10 at 20 39S  69 24E – Reunion 780nm bearing 269T.

I have asked the others to meet and greet you with a cold one as you are not actually in the race – it was their call.

The Afrikaans people in SA have a very descriptive _expression_ – agteross kom ook in die kraal – translation – even the ox at the back gets to go into the pasture!

You are only two days behind Milanto and Sealover. It reminds me of a criticism of sport hunting – it’s unfair if the other team does not even know it is playing!

(Had we started from the same port Zoonie would have been racing all right!)

The gribs still show boring ESE\E 15-20 with no threats or abnormal weather so you should have a pretty relaxed end to your marathon run across the Indian Ocean.

Done that so will have to get the T-shirt!

Have a great day and stay safe.”


“Looks like Cajou is going to win then, by a giraffe’s neck!! And we’ll bring up the elephant’s rear.

Zoonie is gliding over 20:39.09S 69:24.11E at 7.00 knots and bearing 273’. 02.43 UTC.

Have a great day everyone,




“Dear R&B

Thanks for latest update 0400UTC 16\10 at 21 01S  64 24E – Reunion 500nm due west.

SV Cajou in and Sealover and Milanto one day out ETA tomorrow morning.I hope they will welcome you with a cold one!

The gribs show ESE\E max 10 for the next 24-36 hrs and then filling in a bit to 15 max. Closer to Reunion some SE20 coming through but will update again tomorrow as this f\cast is a bit dicey due the activities further south.

No threats or abnormal conditions.

Have a great day and am sure you are looking forward to a change in diet – elephant is so boring!




A couple of days ago we had a lovely flat sea so progress with the Diva was pretty good. Zoonie was doing in excess of 7 knots when suddenly perfection was interrupted, the Diva was not happy, swirling and twisting over the foredeck, upset and flustered. We were off course, the Chartplotter screen showed white out and the connection to the autopilot was lost. I leapt to the wheel, stabbed the STBY (standby) button on the autopilot and steered Zoons back onto a course that would enable the Diva to fly and not get tangled up. I didn’t care what course that would be.

Poor Rob was fast asleep and hastily roused into some kind of remedial action. The chartplotter would not turn off at the device so Rob snuffed it at the control panel, waited ten seconds and turned it back on. All was well and working again, and after a gentle talking to, the Diva was ready for another night time performance. But the problem was far from over.

The Diva – Pole Dancing!

I couldn’t believe it, she was cavorting up and down the forestay, her gossamer gown pulling in all manner of frenzied directions like a harbourside hussy on heat, quite unlike her usual fulsome and controlled self.

I had been busy planting soft green globe artichokes in Donald Trump’s ‘Rose Garden’ to replace what I thought were nasty harsh, prickly plants when suddenly I was called away,

“Barb, chartplotters down again and we’re off course.” My first thought was for the safety of the Diva. I flung my tea shirt on and wriggled into my skirt, no time to do the zip up, we had to get her offstage ASAP. Scrambling to the mast under the limelight of the deck-light above I looked forward and saw this unseemly sight and then noticed how my left/port boob was much cooler than its right/starboard sister. I had only managed to get one arm through one arm-hole. Then, as gravity will confirm, my skirt decided it was time to slip towards my knees and if that was not enough, I had completely forgotten the need for a certain item of underwear.

It took a while but with me on a sheet, intermittently pulling up my skirt, and Rob on the snuffer line we let Zoonie’s roll fling the remaining free material of the Diva’s gown swing back and forwards, Rob pulling the snuffer bag down centimetre by centimetre until within a metre of her hem when Rob went forward and gathered the rest safely in. The fact the forestay is wrapped with the genoa and Rob only pulled when there was free material ready to be snuffed (like that word) saved the Diva from and untimely end.

Rob then looked at me and got the second fright of the night, a dishevelled apparition under the glow of the (street) deck light.

We let the engine guide us through the remaining hours of darkness – our nerve-wracked dispositions had suffered enough.

But all was not over yet!

An hour later and the chart plotter gave up again, taking down the GPS, AIS and chat line with the autopilot. It recovered after ten seconds on the naughty step and I started to wonder if this was anything to do with the fact the Variation (the difference measured in degrees between magnetic north as shown on the compass and actual true north) over recent days has been between 22 degrees and 30 degrees West. Could this affect the chartplotter??)

We were able to confirm this extreme local variation from the lines of variation one of the paper charts we have of the Southern Indian Ocean, another good reason to use paper charts as well as a chart plotter. Each time the chartplotter gave up and Rob got it back I noted our position in the ship’s log and, thus shutting the gate after the nag had bolted I know!

That was yesterday and after all the ‘fun’ my afternoon nap lasted for two and a half hours. Last night the Diva regained her confidence and gave us a blissful gently rolling night of peace and slumber making a 5.4 knot silk purse out of a 10 knot sow’s ear of wind, but to keep her full and happy we sailed 20 degrees off course, of course; not her fault, she sings to our song book after all and she did give us 355 miles of entertainment.

This ox has nothing to beef about.